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Friday, November 18, 2005

Psychology of US torturers at Bagram

After describing US guards at Bagram beating a detainee to death, former detainee Moazzam Begg will provide insight into the psychological mechanisms that allow US military personnel to torture people. The exposition will be strongly reminiscent of the findings of the famous Stanford prison experiment (where othering and institutional support precipitated perverse and sadistic behaviour by ordinary men playing `guards' against their `prisoners'). After describing the murder, Begg says,
I spoke to one of the soldiers who used to get along quite well with me and he told me exactly what he'd done, why he'd done it and how he'd done it. This soldier I'd met in Kandahar and he was one of the few who used to speak to me quite regularly and I was so amazed that he was so candid about telling me how he'd done this and why he'd done this and why he felt it was completely justified and almost vindicated himself by the fact that he's telling me.

And one of the guards there of that unit told me when I used to have discussions with them, that when we see you people we can't look at you as human beings. Our psyche does not allow us to do that - because if we did we wouldn't treat you this way. It's easy for us to dehumanise you. First of all most of you guys don't speak the same language. Secondly, you look different. Thirdly, you're dressed different. Fourthly, you're in cages and we're out here with the guns.


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